England

Llewelyn-Bowen Christmas park near Sutton Coldfield reopens

Lawrence at the park Image copyright Paul Currie Photography Ltd
Image caption Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen's management said he had a "purely creative" role in the park's development

A Christmas attraction created with the help of flamboyant designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has reopened after closing because of complaints.

Hundreds of people criticised the Magical Journey, at the Belfry Golf Club near Sutton Coldfield, for being overpriced and unfinished.

Bosses shut the attraction at the weekend to resolve the issues.

They have banned the media from attending the reopening saying it would "create anxiety for visitors".

A statement said: "The Magical Journey team are hugely grateful for the support we have received from broadcast media and regional papers.

"So it is with huge regret that we have decided not to open the event up to press on our reopening day.

Image caption Organisers said the park's opening should have been postponed

"Please understand that everything we have done, we have done in order to create a truly magical journey for the parents and specifically the children visiting.

"And we feel that camera crews, reporters and journalists are only going to take away from that experience and possibly even create anxiety for our visitors."

Hundreds of messages were posted on the Magical Journey's Facebook page after it opened.

A number of users complained about the price of admission - the top price for a child is £22.50 - and accused the management of misleading the public. Refunds are being offered.

Mother-of-four Michelle Guarini, from Stourport-on-Severn in Worcestershire, said she had paid £150 for her family to visit.

She said: "They made out it was going to be a fantastic, Narnia-like experience - and there were workmen wandering around with cigarettes.

"The Christmas market was about six shacks and there were some elves who didn't seem to know what they were doing. The kids were bored. It was appalling."

Smoking elves

A post on the attraction's Facebook page said reports Father Christmas had sworn at a customer and that a reindeer had bitten a child were untrue.

It said it was possible some elves had been seen smoking in the staff rest area and said extra screening had been put up.

Event director Paul Dolan said work had been "severely hampered" by bad weather and the opening should have been postponed.

He told BBC WM they had now managed to do "all the work they wanted to do".

"It's looking magnificent," he said.

Mr Dolan said "over 500" people had visited the attraction since it reopened.

"Everyone has felt the scrutiny we have been under, but the team have performed brilliantly and today there were lots of smiling faces," he said.

In a post on Facebook Rachel Cannon said: "Just got back... and what a brilliant afternoon. A truly magical time! Well done for turning it around."

Gemma Fenton posted that her children "really enjoyed it" and commented that the staff were "brilliant".

But one father told the BBC even though his children enjoyed their visit it was "probably not worth the money you pay".

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